Thomson has converted around 18,000 more sales since rolling out its virtual call centre across its shop network eight months ago.

The operator started routing telephone calls for Portland and Thomson Holidays’ direct and offline bookings and Thomson TV to high-street agents in September before rolling the VCC out across 375 of its 670 shops.

Around 3,000 staff are trained to take calls, previously handled by the Glasgow call centre that was closed down in

Head of call centres and VCC Lorraine Dempsey said from September to May the conversion rate had increased by 2%, representing around 18,000 sales, thanks to the “intelligent” call routing system that directs calls to the best qualified agent based on conversion rates.

“This is a huge benefit of the system and allows us to drive up conversions. It will look, for example, at the most proficient cruise seller to take a cruise booking,” said Dempsey.

As well as increasing conversion rates the operator says its abandonment rate is less than 1%.

Dempsey added: “Normally in call centres you plan on an abandonment rate of 3% although in the busy times of January and February it could reach 6%.”

Head of distribution Natalie Hufton admitted the company had been nervous about how the system would fare. “Our biggest concern in January was that this was a bit unknown – but answering the calls has been the least of our worries,” she said.

Thomson still has call centres in Swansea and Newcastle for late deals, cruise and Teletext sales but Hufton said there were no plans to close these or to roll VCC out to all shops.